I don’t like long blog posts. Yet this issue deserves a lengthy one so please stay with me.
I’ll start with what I’m hearing from the public:
1. When Silvercreek went down to one lane in each direction – It was a mistake.
2. When Woodlawn Rd became one lane in each direction from Victoria to Country Club Dr – It was a huge mistake.
3. If Speedvale Ave between Stevenson and Woolwich becomes one lane – This city will go livid.
We have a section of Speedvale that is in dire need of underground infrastructure replacement. The city is not ripping up roads for months at end to only repaint the surface. This is all about fixing what we have in the ground. And we need a fix on this section of Speedvale badly. Why? Because the pipes are old. Very old. The existing infrastructure was constructed in approximately 1950. As well, the installation of a transmission water main is required. The bridge just before Woolwich, over the Speed River, was constructed in 1950 and widened in 1974.
It’s time to redo them. Nobody debates this.
The debate, is how do we put it back together? The same? Four lanes with bike lanes? Four lanes with no bike lanes? Two through lanes and a dedicated turning lane? With bike lanes as well? Wider sidewalks or not?
Fair enough, so our staff went to the public for two years to get feedback. That’s right, you read that last sentence right, two years. They presented them with many options.
Here’s the Staff Recommended Option:
“The recommended option is a combination of Options 1 and 2. Option 1 is recommended from Woolwich Street to Riverview Drive and Option 2 is recommended from Riverview Drive to Manhattan Court. This approach includes four vehicle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of Speedvale Avenue. Bicycle lanes would be installed from Woolwich St. to Riverside Park only. Left turn lanes would be installed at Delhi St. and Metcalfe St. The bridge at the Speed River would be replaced with a four lane structure that includes bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks”.
Now enter “the diet”:
To accomplish the above recommendation, staff acknowledge that the city would have to deviate from a 2009 and 2012 bicycle policy that recommends putting bicycle lanes on roads when these type of infrastructure improvements occur.
This has upset many cycling activists and many who in my opinion feel called to change society’s behaviour through creating forced driving discomfort – on purpose – to people like you and me who drive cars.
Council has now had two public meetings within the last 3 weeks about this issue and we’ve had only delgates speak in favour of bike lanes with a proposed road diet. Yet this would mean only one lane of through traffic with a dedicated middle turning lane and bicycle lanes.
What I think is important, is the need to look at this issue through an engineering lens and through engineering princples. The data does NOT support putting Speedvale on a road diet. You cannot look at other roads in our city that may have become a diet and imply that doing the same thing on Speedvale is no big deal. Our projected transit routes will be heavily impacted as well.
Can you imagine the back up of traffic?
The staff report says this:
“Based upon the three lane section, the maximum traffic volume on Speedvale Avenue occurs during the afternoon rush hour in the eastbound direction. The 2013 traffic volume was 1,059 vehicles per hour (vph) and the traffic model projects that the volume will grow to 1,292 vph by 2023. The maximum traffic volume for the westbound direction was in the morning rush hour and the 2013 traffic volume was 866 vehicles per hour (vph) and the traffic model projects that the volume will grow to 1,057 vph by 2023. The estimated length of the traffic queue on Speedvale Avenue based upon the three lane section option was also analysed. In the eastbound direction on Speedvale Avenue, the traffic queue would extend from Delhi Street 330m toward Woolwich Street based upon 2013 traffic volumes. This would extend past the existing fire station at the corner of Riverview Drive and Speedvale Avenue. In 2023, the traffic queue would extend 630m which would be to the west side of the Woolwich street/Speedvale Avenue intersection. Both the existing and future queue lengths would cause significant operational issues for Emergency Services in their ability to respond to emergencies east of the fire station. The future queue length would also cause operational problems at the intersection at Woolwich Street/Speedvale Avenue as the queue on Speedvale Avenue would extend past the intersection. Also, the proposed design would include the installation underground utilities to allow for the future traffic signals at Metcalfe Street. If traffic signals were installed at Metcalfe Street, there would be similar queuing (as compared with the queuing at Delhi Street) occurring at this location. Upon review, the three lane option was not recommended due to the anticipated traffic congestion and operational issues for Emergency Services.”
What can you do?
Speak up. Become a delegate on this issue, write an email or call into your councillors. (by the way you can speak up in favour of the bike lanes and a road diet too. All are welcome to get involved.)
We have a comittee meeting on this issue on July 7th at 5pm. Email clerks here: firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or have an email become part of the public record.
The full report from staff is HERE.
P.S – Anyone who accuses me of being anti-bike can just stop while you’re ahead. I’m pro traffic-flow and pro bicycle network. This doesn’t mean we default to roads everytime where it will impede traffic-flow. I worked at a bike store for 5 years. I collect vintage bicycles and commute to work and appointments on my bike often. In fact, as I write this last sentence, here’s what’s beside my desk: